Breast cancer in Ghana: Why is detection so late?

The Challenge 

Many Ghanaian women with breast cancer are diagnosed at late stages of the disease or receive a poor prognosis when the cancer is discovered.

To learn more about detecting, treating, and preventing breast disease in these women, researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) are conducting the Ghana Breast Health Study in collaboration with investigators at three medical centers. These include one hospital in Accra, Ghana (the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital) and two medical centers in Kumasi, Ghana (the Peace and Love Hospital and the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital).

Westat supports these hospitals in their efforts to recruit more than 2,250 women diagnosed with breast cancer and the same number of healthy participants (controls) and carry out the study. The study will

  • Identify risk factors, particularly modifiable risk factors that could impact the occurrence of disease
  • Try to understand why so many women present with poor prognosis and/or advanced disease

Our Solutions 

  • Westat works with the researchers to develop protocols and procedures for data collection and to ensure that the needed supplies and equipment are available.
  • Development included branding the study and developing recruitment materials to give credibility to the study when presented to potential participants. The graphics and messages in the study recruitment brochure use imagery and language familiar to the study populations.
  • Westat created a web-based data entry system that produces reports for immediate monitoring by Westat and the NCI investigators. Westat provides rapid feedback to NCI and study sites on the progress of participant recruitment and on the completeness and accuracy of the data being collected.

The Results 

  • During the pilot phase of the study, researchers achieved a response rate of approximately 90% to the questionnaires and collected biological samples from most of the women interviewed. Due to the success during the pilot phase, the study was extended for an additional 2 years.
  • The brochure gained the attention of other researchers in Africa for its positive impact on recruitment and retention. The brochure also received the 2014 National Association of Government Communicators (NAGC) Blue Pencil and Gold Screen Award of Excellence, particularly for the design theme and imagery, cultural acceptability, and easy-to-understand content.
  • Results of the study will guide the development of interventions for earlier detection of breast disease and improved survival.

Our Client 

National Cancer Institute (NCI)